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23
Feb

Apple CEO Tim Cook Will Move His Office to Apple Park


Apple CEO Tim Cook plans to work out of Apple Park, the official name for Apple’s second spaceship-shaped campus, according to information obtained by The Chronicle.

Cook will presumably move his office from Apple’s Infinite Loop campus to Apple Park when it opens for employees in April of 2017. Apple announced its plans to open Apple Park in April in a press statement released this morning.

Apple Park will eventually house more than 12,000 employees, who will move to the campus over a period of six months. While Apple Park will open in a little over a month, smaller construction projects and landscaping will continue into the summer.

The Chronicle has learned @tim_cook will be moving his office to Apple Park. https://t.co/cLKasjawEn

— Owen Thomas (@owenthomas) February 23, 2017

In addition to the main ring-shaped building, Apple Park includes a visitor’s center with a full Apple Store and cafe, a fitness center for employees, auxiliary research buildings, underground parking structures, a cafeteria, and a theater named “Steve Jobs Theater” after late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

The entire campus is powered by 100 percent renewable energy and features huge swathes of greenery suitable for the California climate, with more than 9,000 native and drought-resistant trees.

First conceived in 2011 by Steve Jobs, Apple Park has been under construction since 2013 and is rumored to have cost Apple upwards of $5 billion.
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23
Feb

The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 could be launched sometime in May, rumors suggest


Why it matters to you

Looking for a phone with decent specs at a budget price? The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 could be the phone for you.

The huge Xiaomi Mi Max was launched in the first half of last year, but now it’s looking more and more like the popular Chinese company will follow it up with a device aptly called the Xiaomi Mi Max 2.

But what will the phone have to offer? The original Xiaomi Mi Max was a midrange phone, but it was pretty high-powered for the price. Here’s everything we know about the upcoming Xiaomi Mi Max 2 so far.

More: Xiaomi could release a lot more smartphones in 2017

Specs

A new rumor first picked up by AndroidPure about the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 suggests that the device will feature the same 6.44-inch display used on the original phone — a display that bucks the trend of smartphone displays being 6 inches at most. Under the hood, the device will reportedly upgrade from the Snapdragon 650 to the Snapdragon 660. Despite the decidedly midrange processor, the phone will reportedly boast some other pretty top-notch specs, like 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 5,000mAh battery.

As far as software goes, the device will most likely run Android Nougat with Xiaomi’s MIUI over the top.

Release date

So when will we see the upcoming device? While Xiaomi isn’t expected to make much of an appearance at Mobile World Congress next week, we could still see the device in the near future. Current rumors suggest that the device will be officially launched in May — almost exactly a year after the original Xiaomi Mi Max was launched.

It’s not yet known exactly how much the device will cost, but if it’s the same price as last year’s Xiaomi Mi Max, it wall fall somewhere in the $230-$300 range, which is pretty good for a phone with these specs.

We’ll keep this article updated as we hear more about the Xiaomi Mi Max 2.

23
Feb

College student turns his Honda Civic into a self-driving car for $700


Why it matters to you

Self-driving cars aren’t going to be affordable to the masses anytime soon but this enterprising college student found a way around that.

Anyone who has been to college knows that students are permanently broke, constantly having to sacrifice the finer things in life (meals) in favor of the bare essentials (beer.) By facing those hardships, few students are likely to be able to afford a self-driving car anytime soon.

That is not the case for Brevan Jorgenson, though. A senior at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, Jorgenson is the proud owner of a self-driving Honda Civic — and all it cost him was $700 (plus the cost of the car itself.)

His newly autonomous set of wheels is due to his decision to become an early beta tester for Comma Neo, the kit from self-driving car technology developed by former teen hacker George Hotz, now CEO and founder of Comma.ai.

More: Self-driving retrofit software now available for free, but it comes with caveats

“For the beta test stage you just downloaded their beta Android app Chffr, and let it record your driving with a suction phone mount,” Jorgenson told Digital Trends. “I did that for a few months, and in that time I was offered a promotion from student worker to full-time employee [at my job]. With my new income, I decided to buy the 2016 Honda Civic Touring in March. In September, I saw an article with a picture of a 2016 Honda Civic in the background of George Hotz’s garage. I got really excited because I knew that might mean that he is working on getting a Comma system working for my car. I could not believe that the exact car model I bought by coincidence was going to work on the Comma system I was a beta tester for months before [I had bought it.]”

Last November, Comma open-sourced everything necessary to get the 2016 Civic Touring and Acura ILX running the technology. This came after it suddenly abandoned earlier plans to sell the Comma Neo hardware and software to customers as a $1,000 unit, following concerns from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Jorgenson immediately ordered the necessary parts to build his own Neo device, based on plans he found online and Comma’s free software. The finished unit he assembled includes a OnePlus 3 smartphone running Comma’s Openpilot code, circuit board, and a 3D-printed case.

Having already put his autonomous car through its paces on the open road, Jorgenson next plans to use his kitted-out car to drive (or, at least, to have it drive him) the 7.5-hour journey from Omaha, Nebraska, to Denver so he can visit his girlfriend in March.

We guess that rocking up in a self-driving car is one way to impress the object of your affections. Back in our day, we just stood outside bedroom windows holding up a boombox!

23
Feb

College student turns his Honda Civic into a self-driving car for $700


Why it matters to you

Self-driving cars aren’t going to be affordable to the masses anytime soon but this enterprising college student found a way around that.

Anyone who has been to college knows that students are permanently broke, constantly having to sacrifice the finer things in life (meals) in favor of the bare essentials (beer.) By facing those hardships, few students are likely to be able to afford a self-driving car anytime soon.

That is not the case for Brevan Jorgenson, though. A senior at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, Jorgenson is the proud owner of a self-driving Honda Civic — and all it cost him was $700 (plus the cost of the car itself.)

His newly autonomous set of wheels is due to his decision to become an early beta tester for Comma Neo, the kit from self-driving car technology developed by former teen hacker George Hotz, now CEO and founder of Comma.ai.

More: Self-driving retrofit software now available for free, but it comes with caveats

“For the beta test stage you just downloaded their beta Android app Chffr, and let it record your driving with a suction phone mount,” Jorgenson told Digital Trends. “I did that for a few months, and in that time I was offered a promotion from student worker to full-time employee [at my job]. With my new income, I decided to buy the 2016 Honda Civic Touring in March. In September, I saw an article with a picture of a 2016 Honda Civic in the background of George Hotz’s garage. I got really excited because I knew that might mean that he is working on getting a Comma system working for my car. I could not believe that the exact car model I bought by coincidence was going to work on the Comma system I was a beta tester for months before [I had bought it.]”

Last November, Comma open-sourced everything necessary to get the 2016 Civic Touring and Acura ILX running the technology. This came after it suddenly abandoned earlier plans to sell the Comma Neo hardware and software to customers as a $1,000 unit, following concerns from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Jorgenson immediately ordered the necessary parts to build his own Neo device, based on plans he found online and Comma’s free software. The finished unit he assembled includes a OnePlus 3 smartphone running Comma’s Openpilot code, circuit board, and a 3D-printed case.

Having already put his autonomous car through its paces on the open road, Jorgenson next plans to use his kitted-out car to drive (or, at least, to have it drive him) the 7.5-hour journey from Omaha, Nebraska, to Denver so he can visit his girlfriend in March.

We guess that rocking up in a self-driving car is one way to impress the object of your affections. Back in our day, we just stood outside bedroom windows holding up a boombox!

23
Feb

Want to simulate anti-gravity in VR? Use a headset in your swimming pool


Why it matters to you

Virtual reality may be able to give you the visuals for any setting, but taking a waterproof headset into your swimming pool could simulate weightlessness, too.

Folks in tech have a thing about convergence. Whether it’s combining personal data assistants with cellphones to create smartphones, or crossing web browsing computers with televisions to create smart TVs, there’s something irresistible about combining two different concepts and hoping the results are greater than the sum of their parts.

That’s what friends Stephen Greenwood and Allan Evans may have achieved when they decided to combine a scene from a popular Netflix series with virtual reality headsets to create … floating underwater VR. Sure, it sounds a bit crazy, but it’s hard not to be a little intrigued.

More: With Google’s new Expeditions app, teachers can take their whole class on a VR field trip

“We were out in San Francisco one night,” Greenwood, who is director of creative development at Discovery Digital Networks, told Digital Trends. “I had just been watching the show Stranger Things on Netflix, and was really inspired by one scene in the show where one of the characters is in a sensory deprivation tank. We started talking about sensory deprivation, and all of a sudden we came up with the idea of using a VR headset in one of these sensory deprivation tanks.”

Evans, co-founder of headset maker Avegant, immediately set about thinking of ways to develop a prototype to see if the idea was worth exploring further. The very next day he got hold of a diving mask and 3D-printed two blocks to go inside it to allow a waterproof Android smartphone to be slotted inside like an aquatic Google Cardboard device. It was then just a matter of finding a swimming pool to test the creation in.

“The first experience I wanted to test out was simulating a space environment,” Greenwood continued. “I was able to track down a CG-rendered video of the International Space Station floating above the Earth. The impact was pretty much immediate. Even though it’s not the highest resolution or fidelity, there was a moment where — for a brief second — you really felt like you were an astronaut floating in space.”

Evans is quick to point out that this is in no way a finished product. “It’s the earliest possible stage of a prototype,” he said. “It couldn’t be any earlier.”

They’re not finished yet, though. “The next step is to see if we can incorporate a positional tracking system so that, rather than just being able to turn your head to look around at a 360 video, there’s the ability to swim toward objects in virtual reality,” he continued. “That’s going to be a big step to us.”

Hey, at the very least this neat hack promises to make bath time infinitely more enjoyable!

23
Feb

Microsoft is making Windows 10 Mail & Calendar app easier to use, more efficient


Why it matters to you

Microsoft is giving you a better Mail & Calendar app in Windows 10, with the hope of ending your search for a better alternative.

The Windows 10 Creators Update, which will add new gaming features, 3D support, and more to the OS, is due soon. But it’s not just Windows 10 that’s being enhanced, as Microsoft continues to improve its first-party Windows 10 apps as well.

The Mail & Calendar app is particularly important to users, as it serves as the main communications tool for most people running Windows 10. Not everyone has an interest in Outlook 2016 or in searching out alternatives, and so the changes that Microsoft outlined in its recent post on the Windows blog should be particularly welcome.

More: Microsoft brings Focused Inbox to the Windows 10 Mail app for some lucky users

First up is a new feature that’s been covered before and that should be familiar to anyone using Microsoft’s Outlook Mobile app on iOS and Android. Called “Focused Inbox,” the feature makes it easier to keep your most important email separated from the less important messages — if you trust Microsoft’s machine intelligence to determine what’s important, that is.

Just as its name implies, Focused Inbox creates a separate tab where the app places those messages it deems most important. Lesser emails are placed in an Other tab. Both tabs provide a visual indicator that new messages are available in whichever tab isn’t currently open, and you can fine-tune the Focused Inbox feature by moving email from one tab to another. You can also turn Focused Inbox off if you find it more of a hindrance than a help.

Next up is the ability to precede a name with the @ symbol when it’s in the body of an email message to pull up frequent contacts and gain access to the contact directory. If that person isn’t in the list of recipients, they’ll be added, and they’ll also be highlighted in blue so they know they’re being addressed. If you’ve been mentioned in an email using the feature, then the @ symbol will appear in your message list and you’ll be able to filter to see all of the messages where you’ve been mentioned.

Changes are also coming for the Calendar portion of the Mail & Calendar app. New features include:

  • Color categories to allow you to categorize events by color and quickly pick out specific event types.mail-and-calendar-colored-events-325x325
  • An Interesting Calendars feature that lets you add a variety of different calendars that are powered by Bing to let you more easily keep track of things like your favorite sports team and maintain a TV schedule.mail-and-calendar-interesting-calendars-
  • The Mail & Calendar app already pulls travel and package delivery information from your emails and adds them to your calendar. Now, Microsoft is adding simplified summary cards in your Mail inbox and in the calendar to make it easier for you to access the details.mail-and-calendar-event-details-325x325.
  • A variety of smaller improvements have also been added to the Calendar app. You’ll see location suggestions from Bing, have the ability to add Skype for online meetings, be able to more easily pick emojis, and more.mail-and-calendar-more-updates-325x325.p

All of these new features work with Outlook.com and Office 365 accounts for now. Microsoft will be adding support for other services in the future. You may already be enjoying some of these new features if you’re a Windows Insider running the most recent Windows 10 preview builds, but soon enough everyone will have access to much-improved Mail & Calendar functionality.

23
Feb

New translucent cooling material could revolutionize the AC industry


Why it matters to you

Traditional air conditioning units are energy hogs so a team from the University of Colorado decided to develop a radiative cooling material which uses zero energy.

To help buck the trend of traditional energy-sucking mechanical air conditioners, a group of researchers at the University of Colorado developed a metamaterial film designed to efficiently radiate heat at any time of day. A translucent type of film, the material would reportedly feature the ability to cool a home at the expense of literally zero energy. Considering how large energy bills tend to be during the summer months in places like Arizona, southern California, or Florida, the researcher’s breakthrough seems poised to supplant old-fashioned AC units — should the innovation actually pan out.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado’s departments of mechanical engineering, materials science and engineering, and aerospace engineering sciences — as well as a group from the University of Wyoming — the study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal, Science. The abstract of the study posits that “passive radiative cooling draws heat from surfaces and radiates it into space as infrared radiation to which the atmosphere is transparent.” The issue was that the team needed to find a material suitable for handling the solar irradiance and low infrared radiation flux’s energy density mismatch.


University of Colorado

“We embedded resonant polar dielectric microspheres randomly in a polymeric matrix, resulting in a metamaterial that is fully transparent to the solar spectrum while having an infrared emissivity greater than 0.93 across the atmospheric window,” the research read. “When backed with silver coating, the metamaterial shows a noon-time radiative cooling power of 93 W/m2 under direct sunshine. More critically, we demonstrated high-throughput, economical roll-to-roll manufacturing of the metamaterial, vital for promoting radiative cooling as a viable energy technology.”

In other words, the translucent material developed by the team features tiny silicon dioxide spheres which help it release any infrared radiation, while at the same time denying the absorption of any solar radiation. To do this, the film effectively lets any solar radiation move right through it, allowing the team to put a reflective material on one side of the material to relay that radiation away. If installed in a home, that reflective material would push heat away while absorbing cooler air. No energy needed.

More: Oregon home generates more energy than it uses, completely recycles its used water

It’s worth pointing out the research, while published, concerns a relatively uncharted industry. Those developing similar radiative cooling solutions in the past found a workable system rather expensive and difficult to scale. The current team did mention scalability for their development but until further tests commence, it’s hard to make a proper assumption at this time.

23
Feb

AMD’s new Ryzen chips are available for pre-order today, but you might want to hurry


The wait is finally over. By March 2 you’ll be able to run out and purchase one of AMD’s new Ryzen CPUs — if there are any left. Pre-orders started today at 185 retail outlets, but you might want to get yours in quick, because even the big box stores are limiting how many you can order at a time.

So, if you want to be among the first to pick up a Ryzen CPU, read on, we’ve broken down initial availability at a few major retail outlets below.

Where you can pre-order now

Amazon
Ryzen 1700 Bundle
Ryzen 1700X Bundle
Ryzen 1800X Bundle
NewEgg
Ryzen 1700
Ryzen 1700X
Ryzen 1800X
Best Buy
CyberPowerPC with Ryzen 1700
CyberPowerPC with Ryzen 1700X
CyberPowerPC with Ryzen 1800X
Walmart
Not Yet

B&H Photo Video
CyberPowerPC with Ryzen 1700
CyberPowerPC with Ryzen 1700X
CyberPowerPC with Ryzen 1800X
Microcenter
Not Yet

TigerDirect
Ryzen 1700
Ryzen 1700X
Ryzen 1800X

Among the first to list Ryzen chips for pre-order this morning around 9AM PST, NewEgg is at the head of the pack. Despite limiting the number of Ryzen CPUs you can order at once — 5 per customer — availability looks good.

Pre-ordering from NewEgg, you can expect your shiny new Ryzen CPU to ship after March 2, 2017. It doesn’t appear that ship dates have started to slip just yet, so you might want to get in before they do.

NewEgg also has a number of pre-order listings for Ryzen-compatible motherboards from the usual OEMs, including Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, and ASRock. Though a few of these have ship dates as late as March 9.

Amazon also features a number of compatible motherboard bundles, and ready-to-ship gaming PCs featuring Ryzen CPUs. But as of this reporting, it has yet to list individual chips for pre-order.

More: Technical slides reveal new truths about Ryzen’s power management

Component wholesaler Tiger Direct has all three Ryzen chips available for pre-order, without any shipping estimates. The CPUs are listed as “out of stock” and “ships when available,” but it doesn’t appear that there are any limits on the number of Ryzen chips you can pick up at once.

If you’re more in the mood for picking up a whole system, both Best Buy and B&H Photo Video have pre-order listings for a number of CyberPowerPC gaming rigs built with Ryzen chips.

So far, overall availability is looking good, and we have yet to see any single retailer inflating prices beyond the MSRP for all three chips. We’ll keep an eye out for updated deals and availability as more retailers join in the fray.

23
Feb

Roam Robotics’ lightweight, affordable exoskeleton designed for everyday folks


Why it matters to you

Exoskeletons promise to make us stronger and faster, but most of them remain bulky pieces of kit. Roam Robotics has created a lightweight alternative.

There are a number of companies in existence developing cutting-edge exoskeletons that will help us perform feats of strength or endurance beyond what our bodies can otherwise manage.

But while a lot of these creations are bulky, expensive, and rely on electromechanical components to work, San Francisco-based Roam Robotics is taking a different approach. Instead, it’s focusing on designs that are largely constructed out of plastic and high-strength fabrics, but which nonetheless don’t give up too much in terms of power compared to other designs.

More: A robotic exoskeleton powered this disabled U.S. athlete to a prize in the ‘Robot Olympics’

“We are making a new type of exoskeleton that is primarily made of plastics and fabrics instead of the metal and motors that make up traditional devices,” Roam Robotics co-founder Tim Swift told Digital Trends. “The goal is to make devices that can dramatically reduce system cost and weight without sacrificing overall performance. The thing that is exciting, though, is that it creates a pathway to what has always been the dream for exoskeletons: a lightweight device that regular people can get access to and use in their everyday life. Early work has shown capabilities well beyond any device to date such as making people run faster and for less energy.”

Swift said that the resulting exoskeleton could be useful in a number of everyday scenarios — such as helping a person recover from a knee injury, lift heavy objects, or simply maintain the ability to go on long hikes.

Roam Robotics has been investigating the underlying technology for several years now, and Swift noted that the plan at present is have the first devices commercially available in 2018.

“The best way to interact with our technology is to reach out to us on our website and tell us what you are interested in them for, as we are always looking for people to evaluate early devices during development,” he said. “Also, as we progress towards commercial release, we will be looking to complete early pilot trials where we plan to draw from interested parties.”

23
Feb

Kobo enters the ebook buffet arena with Kobo Plus, but there’s a catch


Why it matters to you

More options for your ebook needs are usually a good thing, but there is a huge catch with Kobo Plus.

Ebook subscription services are not particularly new — Amazon launched its Kindle Unlimited service in 2014 while Scribd has been mainly known as an ebook subscription service since 2013. Now that such services have become somewhat of a trend, Kobo thought it was time to throw its hat into the arena with Kobo Plus.

Similar to the aforementioned competitors, Kobo Plus is an ebook subscription service that lets you read over 40,000 titles — 10,000 are in Dutch — for 10 euros (around $10.50). The available titles include new releases and bestsellers, as well as more older titles, though it might be best to look over the list and make sure there are books that appeal to you.

More: How to get ebooks on your Kindle, Nook, or Kobo ebook reader

In terms of revenue, Kobo said it worked with “leading Dutch publishers” to develop a fair-share model that doles out payments funded by the subscription revenues. The company did not say what slice of the pie these publishers receive, but Kobo insists the payment model allows Kobo Plus to stand on its own two feet for the long term.

As has been hinted at, however, there is one big catch with Kobo Plus — it is currently only available in Belgium and the Netherlands. According to Kobo, this is because the company has seen large growth in the two countries, to the point where one in seven non-fiction books sold in the Netherlands is digital. Furthermore, Kobo has sold 1.2 million of its ebook readers in the Netherlands, which means that roughly 1 in 16 people in the country own a Kobo-branded ebook reader.

Kobo Plus is now available in the two launch countries, though Kobo did not say whether the service will cross borders into other countries. Similar to Kindle Unlimited and Scribd, you can try Kobo Plus free of charge for 30 days, after which you will need to decide whether the service is for you.

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